Coconut Macaroons

3 cups unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp melted butter
1 cup caster sugar
3 extra-large or 4 medium-large egg whites
1 cup chopped chocolate (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut, vanilla, butter, and half the sugar.
3. Whip the whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until they begin to get foamy and opaque. Add the remaining sugar in a slow, steady stream and continue whipping until the mixture is pure white and volumized, but just short of holding soft peaks. Fold the whites into the coconut mixture. Add the chocolate, if desired.
4. Using a teaspoon, scoop the batter onto parchment-lined cookie sheets, about 1/2-inch apart.
5. Bake for about 13-15 minutes, until lightly browned, turning the tray once during baking. Cool completely.

Note: The batter can be made several days in advance, and kept covered and refrigerated.

Coconut Shortbread (adapted from Baking Bites)

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut (unsweetened is fine, too)

1. In a large mixing bowl whisk flour, sugar and salt together. Mix in butter until dough is crumbly, but starting to come together. Stir in coconut and continue to mix until dough resembles wet sand; there should be large and fine clumps of dough in the mixing bowl.
2. Pour shortbread dough into prepared pan and press it firmly down into a single, even layer. Score shortbread lightly to make it easier to slice later.
3. Bake in preheated oven at 180 C for 30-35 minutes, until edges are golden and top is very lightly browned. Middle of shortbread will be set, but not firm.
4. Cool shortbread for 5 minutes, then use a sharp knife to cut the shortbread into 18 bars. Cool shortbread entirely in pan.
5. When cooled, remove shortbread from baking pan and store in an airtight container.

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